New 'Kraken' GSM-cracking software is released

New 'Kraken' GSM-cracking software is released
New 'Kraken' GSM-cracking software is released 

By Robert McMillan
IDG News Service
July 21, 2010

The (Global System for Mobile Communications) technology used by the 
majority of the world's mobile phones will get some scrutiny at next 
week's Black Hat security conference, and what the security researchers 
there have to say isn't pretty.

On Friday, an open source effort to develop GSM-cracking software 
released software that cracks the A5/1 encryption algorithm used by some 
GSM networks. Called Kraken, this software uses new, very efficient, 
encryption cracking tables that allow it to break A5/1 encryption much 
faster than before.

The software is key step toward eavesdropping on mobile phone 
conversations over GSM networks. Since GSM networks are the backbone of 
3G, they also provide attackers with an avenue into the new generation 
of handsets.

In December, the group released a set of encryption tables designed to 
speed up the arduous process of breaking A5/1 encryption, but the 
software component was incomplete. Now the software is done, and the 
tables are much more efficient than they were seven months ago. "The 
speed of how fast you could crack a call is probably orders of magnitude 
better than anything previously," said Frank Stevenson, a developer with 
the A5/1 Security Project. "We know we can do it in minutes; the 
question is, can we do it in seconds?"


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